In the realm of Northern Renaissance art, one piece that stands out is “James the late emperor of the Devil is stopped the illusions of a magician,” an engraving created by Pieter Bruegel the Elder in 1565. This artwork, which falls under the genre painting category, depicts a scene where James, identified as a late emperor of the Devil, confronts the deceptive spectacles of a magician. The piece is not only a testament to Bruegel’s religious background, as he was known to be a faithful Catholic who often incorporated biblical scenes into his work, but also showcases his skill in capturing human folly and superstition.
The engraving measures 22 x 29 cm and is housed in the Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF) in Paris, France. It is part of Bruegel’s Brussels Period, which spanned from 1563 to 1569, a time when he produced some of his most significant works. Bruegel’s artistry is evident in the detailed depiction of the characters and the vivid portrayal of the narrative, which reflects the artist’s critical eye on society and its vices.
The artwork, along with Bruegel’s other famous works such as “The Fight between Carnival and Lent” (1559), “Netherlandish Proverbs” (1559), and “Hunters in the Snow” (1565), contributes to the rich tapestry of Renaissance art and offers insight into the cultural and religious milieu of the 16th century.